How do you write a novel?

I recently came out of hiding and admitted to my friends and family that I am now and have always been a writer geek. My parents were very supportive. It was something they suspected all along. After all, it seems to go hand in hand with the extensive book, notebook and pen collection. Most of them have passed on a good luck wish, some have remained respectably quiet and I am sure I even caught an eye roll or two. Some of my other friends however have kindly offered their children as beta readers, which is something I will take them up on in the future. A few have even admitted that they have had the desire to write themselves. One brave friend even exposed her own soul to judgement and asked openly on a social networking site, how do you write a novel?

It was a very good question, one in which is very personal to every individual writer. Along with outlining, sticky notes, chapter summaries, character sketches and other devices here are just some of the most used methods that I have stumbled across:

1)    The Snowflake Method – Randy Ingermanson, Ph.D. developed this method believing that a great novel is not simply written but designed. The principle is based on the notion that you build a novel much like a snowflake is designed, starting small and expanding out.

2)    The Kiser Method – Ken Kiser developed this method based on the idea that slow and steady wins the race and that most writers find it difficult to stay motivated more than three weeks at a time. This works by having set daily word count goals that gradually increase each month and a ten-day break between each writing period.

3)    The Weekend NovelistRobert J. Ray helps writers who have limited amounts of time during the week write a novel during the weekends.

4)    The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing Evan Marshall provides a 16-step plan. This book claims to break typical novel-writing steps into smaller easier to complete tasks.

5)    NaNoWriMo – is an annual (November) novel-writing project that brings together professional and amateur writers from all over the world to complete a novel in a month.

Which method do I use? The answer is my own. I tend to get nagged by my muse over an idea and if I get nagged enough I decide to write it. I sometimes do a brief character sketch but mainly I put my fingers on the keys and type. It has worked for me so far so I guess I will stick with it. What method do you use?


About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
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9 Responses to How do you write a novel?

  1. Very, very helpful to see these methods all together. My method sounds a lot like the Snowflake Method, but I’m interested to consider the others.

    • I have tried to use them all but I have too short of an attention span to try to stick to a method. Some of them are really good and I am sure they work great for some writers. Thanks for stopping by, I love your blog, it is one of my favourites.

  2. Billie, Writing a novel seemed like an insurmountable task to me, until I came to the realization that it is as simple (and difficult) as sitting down everday and putting down what happens next. That’s the only way it gets done, as any of us who have done it know. You have an idea, and you sit down and write it.
    Love the links to helpful techniques!

  3. Selena says:

    I dabble a little in each one; I find any one method too restricting. Yes, I do have authority issues 😉 But I learned a lot about discipline from actually winning NaNo last November. That taught me a lot about just doing it. So…two hours a day on my own work, no matter what!

  4. Ken Kiser says:

    I’m honored that you included my little method along with these others. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Snowflakes in June – How I am tackling my new novel. | Out of the Woods

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